’Cats not satisfied with 11-2 start

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Published 2011-03-08T18:01:00Z”/>


Strong individual performances and pitching helped the team to a good start as the ’cats begin to click.Blake Mehigan

The ‘Cats kept on being road dogs this weekend.

Chico State baseball took three out of four on the road in conference games against Cal State Monterey Bay and are off to an 11-2 start overall and a 6-2 start in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

Yet the coaching staff and players of the ‘Cats are nowhere near satisfied with their 2011 effort. At least, not yet.

Senior third baseman Adrian Bringas was pleased with his team’s play on the road, and thought he had solid contributions personally, but also sees room for improvement, he said.

“We just can’t practice enough,” said Bringas, who added an RBI single and scored two runs Sunday.

Chico State needs to continue to work on the fundamentals, like bunting, baserunning and all-around smart play, Bringas said.

“Our pitching has been great, and I really feel like our hitting has come along,” he said.

Wildcats head coach Dave Taylor thinks the team has room to grow on offense, he said.

“Pitching and defense were exceptional,” he said. “Offensively we’re not where we need to be.”

Taylor noted that tinkering with the batting order might be necessary in the coming weeks to help generate some more consistent run support.

Sophomore catcher Ben Manlove was another Wildcat who thought he and his team performed well in spite of their lackluster bats.

“I was able to handle the pitching staff pretty well,” he said. “On the road we just get along real well. It’s important that we maintain our good chemistry.”

Despite Chico State’s spotty offense thus far, Taylor has been thrilled with the grit and play of the team’s younger players, especially from freshman pitchers Ryan O’Shea and Nick Baker.

O’Shea, a right-handed native of Brentwood, threw six innings of three-hit, one-run baseball in Saturday’s first game for the Wildcats. Baker allowed three runs on four hits in seven innings

on Sunday.

“Both those guys threw very well,” Taylor said.

On Friday, junior Brian Buckham started off the ‘Cats strong, giving up five hits in seven innings while surrendering only two runs.

“Brian Buckham proved this weekend he is a legitimate Friday night guy,” Taylor said.

Another important contribution from his pitching staff came in senior lefty Kevin Brahney, despite getting the loss in a 4-2 game in the second half of the Saturday doubleheader.

The southpaw from Sunnyvale had missed the first three weeks of the season due to academic related issues, and the Wildcats are better off with him back on the hill, Taylor said.

Despite the strong start from his team, the Wildcats could just as easily be hovering just above a .500 record right now, Taylor said.

“Offensively we need to be a little tougher,” Taylor said.

Chico State is beginning to look like a very competitive team, something that Bringas attributes to the team beginning to mesh.

<em>Blake Mehigan can be reached at</em>

<strong>[email protected]</strong>